The Pressure Cooker Called Africa - looking at one of the latest (but by no means newest) democracy movements, the West African nation of Ivory Coast (Cote D'Ivoire) and the struggle to unseat Ivorian strongman Laurent Gbagbo, whose loss in the recent election has gone pretty much unnoticed by him.
March 5, 2011

Laurent Gbagbo - why is this man smiling?

With the latest wave of pro-democracy protests, one of the latest (but by no means newest) democracy movements has been taking place in the West African nation of Ivory Coast (Cote D'Ivoire). For those of you following the goings on in Africa for the past few years, you will know Ivory Coast has been a hotbed of unrest for a very long time with Ivorian strongman Laurent Gbagbo (pronounced Bag-Bo) at the center of rebellions, takeovers and now rigged elections. Late in 2010 there was a movement to unseat Gbagbo from his vice-like grip and elections were finally (albeit begrudgingly) held, after which opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara contested the elections outcome which showed Gbagbo the winner, but under highly suspicious circumstances. Truth of the matter was, Ouattara won the election but Gbagbo chose not to notice.

And so the struggle to oust Gbagbo from power has been ongoing. But fueled largely by the wave of protests throughout the rest of the region, it has given impetus for a renewed call for the ouster of Gbagbo and the instating of Ouattara to his rightful place of leadership.

Sounds easy. But no. It has gotten very ugly the past 48 hours with protests increasing as well as violence and severe crackdowns on the part of Gbagbo's military. As of yesterday (March 4th) reports of troops opening fire on unarmed women protesters in the Abidjan district of Abodo, killing six and wounding scores have only increased the fears that a civil war in, if not already underway, just about to happen.

At last report, there were indications Nigeria may enter the conflict by forcing the ouster of Gbagbo, but a hastily called meeting of other African leaders signify there are at least attempts at a peaceful solution.

Still, this story like all the others at the moment, is far from over.

So today I'm including two reports - the top player is a report via the BBC Africa Service Africa Today Program from Friday at 2:30 pm GMT and the bottom player, for those of you who speak or understand French, is the latest report (as of 12 noon today March 5th) from the West African Service of RFI.

Hopefully, this story will have a successful ending - but it's been going on for so long it's anyone's guess.

Just to let you know there really IS news of importance going on in the world.

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